What “causes” churches to grow is a different but related question. For the moment, I’m wondering about what else is true concurrently with church growth. Here’s a partial list that comes to mind. What would you add?
- When they are brand new, and the leadership is focused almost exclusively on reaching new people and inviting them to walk together in life transforming faith.
- When they become “the popular thing”
- When they have enough name or brand recognition that people are drawn there
- When the participants are enthusiastic and motivated to invite neighbors and friends
- When the participants have a desire and motivation to see people come to renewing faith in Jesus
- When there is a major crisis in the community or world and people “need” church
- When God’s Holy Spirit does something in a community, a church, or its leaders.
- When they are responding to people’s felt needs. This is initially neutral. Could be need for divorce or grief recovery. Could be need for entertainment and distraction and confirming my biases and prejudices. Either way, it works, at least initially.
- When they engage people in ways that help them find deep meaning, purpose and healing.
- When they are able to engage newcomers into relationship (individually AND in groups) that help them experience hospitality, friendship, service and spiritual growth.
Trying to form a theologically diverse community – harder than I thought…
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Tagged church, conservative, disciples of christ, diversity, jesus, leadership, leadership development, liberal, ministry, pastoral, theology, unity
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We would like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet, it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability –
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually – let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time,
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming in you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ:
This is from the wonderful little prayer book titled Hearts on Fire: Praying with the Jesuits. It’s a great book – highly recommended.
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Tagged call, chardin, creation, discovery, ignatius, jesuits, journey, patience, prayer, spiritual exercises, transformation, unfolding, vocation
Your vocation is “The voice with which your life speaks things into existence in the world.” This idea derives from the Latin etymology – vocare (to call) and vox (voice). The Hebrew text from Genesis 1 describes how God’s voice creates all that we know, including humanity, who are made in God’s image. We reason then that our lives also create things for good in the world, and this voice is our vocation. We actually have multiple vocations in our lives through the various relationship, occupations, hobbies and other ways that we engage the world.
There are many different individual and group practices than can help us to discern and develop our vocations. Over the coming months we will share some of those techniques here, and others will be presented in our workshops. You can also find them listed on our Facebook Page @iVitalMinistry.
IT COMES FROM the Latin vocare, to call, and means the work a man is called to by God. There are all different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work, and the problem is to find out which is the voice of God rather than of Society, say, or the Super-ego, or Self-interest. By and large a good rule for finding out is this. The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world most needs to have done. If you really get a kick out of your work, you’ve presumably met requirement (a), but if your work is writing TV deodorant commercials, the chances are you’ve missed requirement (b). On the other hand, if your work is being a doctor in a leper colony, you have probably met requirement (b), but if most of the time you’re bored and depressed by it, the chances are you have not only bypassed (a) but probably aren’t helping your patients much either.
Neither the hair shirt nor the soft berth will do. The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.
– Originally published in Wishful Thinking
In the deeps are the violence and terror of which psychology has warned us. But if you ride these monsters deeper down, if you drop with them farther over the world’s rim, you find what our sciences cannot locate or name, the substrate, the ocean or matrix or ether which buoys the rest, which gives goodness its power for good, and evil its power for evil, the unified field: our complex and inexplicable caring for each other, and for our life together here. This is given. It is not learned.